Aftershock bides time before its depiction of Chilean earthquakes take over, spilling random acts of kitschy violence. Club goers ramble off repetitious dialogue in a comical societal charade in search of soapy romance, jumping between festive parties as audiences await inevitable chaos. Languid and insufferable crafted personalities chug Aftershock to its trifling devastation.
Level headed Monica (Andrea Osvart) joins male cohorts, along with her recovering alcoholic sister, to dole out development as broad archetypes. Uncivil and entitled, the crew flaunts Pesos as they crash glitzy establishments, setting an immediate stage for eventual death. Horror films destine each of these contemptible characters for blood-soaked ends.
Nearly 35-minutes of interior (and some exterior) sightseeing later, a quake ransacks feeble construction work, scattering concrete debris, bar shelving, lighting, and additional puncturing materials into (and onto) victims. Aftershock often feels closed off, budgetary restrictions capping visual disaster splendor for more personal viciousness. Initial bursts of panicked delirium segue into street wandering as this dwindling pack of friends seek desperate medical help.
Reprieve, of course, never comes. In the midst of continuing disaster, a prison was felled, goons looting streets while murderers seek added victim counts. Aftershock bolts itself down within a church interior and connected underground tunnels, pushing humanities breakdown via gruesome rape and loopy CGI live burnings. Splinters of gross excess run into jocular splatter fests, Aftershock’s kills weirdly timed, inconsequential events. Wrong place, wrong time is a mantra held to its truest.
Gore hound Eli Roth’s name is scattered across promotional material as producer and star, the film itself tepid by Roth’s eye-peeling standards. Grown marketing expectations only serve to dwindle Aftershock’s level headed reality. Hungarian actress Osvart takes the piece as her own, survivalist instincts and emotional peaks creating elements amongst this film’s most memorable. It’s not the pervasive bloodshed which carries this surface level drama.
Aftershock was hauled away with an initial NC-17 classification, cut to reach an audience amicable R designation. Home video does not retain edited footage either, somewhat suspicious in that finished video is quaint by sliding modern standards. Little here goes for gusto in seeking out displays of graphic severity, leaving blood thirsty audiences dry. A one scene appearance by Selena Gomez is not worth the time either.
Aftershock turns into a competent resume film for Spanish director Nicolas Lopez, if not a piece of disaster film heritage.
Low grade digital powers Aftershock’s glossily clean cinematography, packed with persistent unnatural clarity and often fuzzy imagery. While typically free from displays of low light noise (or any noise for that matter), fidelity is often held at bay. Images lack crispness and resolve sweaty faces almost out of spite. This 1080p master is potentially sourced from lower resolution material based on the presentation’s visible punch… or lack thereof.
Of merit are genuinely thick black levels, critical come third act chases in flashlight-lit tunnels. In total darkness, there are no signs of graying or lessening impact within the darkest spots of the frame. Even during early partying, depth weighs heavily and remains consistent in its performance.
Limited tinkering in the intermediate phase lessens unnatural hues, keeping flesh tones pure while backdrops provide plentiful saturation. Swinging colored spotlights are generous for club goers and often dazzling. Chilean locations are likewise rich in varied color, even if photography is overly mushy. Bright contrast can only alleviate so much, and clashes with digitized elements in the frame, even pushing far enough to cast light halos.
As uncomfortable as this independent video can be, Anchor Bay’s AVC encode is a tough worker. Compression is given room to perform duties, without forcing additional problems.
Sustained rumble greets all text opening credits, a satisfying beginning mirrored by closing credits as well. Oddly, this LFE girth is substantial enough to conquer earthquakes in narrative which seem to play it safe.
Aftershock is a battle of dynamic range however, blisteringly loud concerts ear piercing compared to quaint dialogue. It becomes a battle for forced atmosphere.
Despite volume misgivings, destruction is built on audio, which pushes debris further than visuals allow. Falling objects work through stereos and surrounds in a somewhat artificial showcase. Stampeding citizens run amok, driving a sense of position and viewer location. Exteriors offer enveloping sirens and distant events to set scale. Although low on funds, DTS-HD offerings are mightily mixed if pushing too much muscle.
Eli Roth and director Nicolas Lopez chat across nations in a commentary track that seats participants thousands of miles away from one another. A 10-minute making of offers enough behind-the-scenes footage to scrape by, and a funny if somewhat pervy look at a casting prank is a short bit of entertainment.
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